THE WEEK IN LATIN AMERICA

Mexico's president-elect taps heavyweights for his transition

More than 40 people have been appointed to form Peña Nieto's transition team

Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto.
Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto.M. G. (EFE)

Mexico's President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday announced the team of advisors that will be in charge of the transition from the outgoing Calderón administration before he takes office on December 1.

"The election process has ended. Now it is up to me to work on the government policies that will be introduced on December 1 and comply with my campaign commitments," said the 45-year-old Peña Nieto, who won the July race for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

More than 40 people have been appointed to form his transition team, including PRI political powerbroker Luis Videgaray, who served as his campaign manager, and former Hidalgo state governor Miguel Ángel Osorio Chon. The two men will head up Peña Nieto's economic and security policy committees, respectively.

Although the president-elect pointed out that his transition team does not reflect the makeup of his future Cabinet, it is expected that Videgaray will get a top post in charge of implementing a series of tax, labor and energy reforms. Changes in the tax code are said to be a priority because one of Peña Nieto's top goals is to expand the social security system so that everyone can have access to it. Law enforcement will also take precedence in the new administration's policies. Peña Nieto has brought in retired Colombian police chief Óscar Naranjo as his new security advisor. Naranjo, 55, is a legendary figure in his native country, having been responsible for the capture or death of nearly every important drug cartel leader, starting with Pablo Escobar.

There is a certain sense of urgency in putting together this transition team following a hotly contested race in which his leftist opponent, Andrés López Obrador, who came in second, refused to recognize the PRI's victory. Among the charges, López Obrador and his followers allege that the PRI was involved in a massive vote-buying scheme by purchasing cash-laden debit cards and offering them to people in exchange for their votes.

The ruling National Action Party (PAN) and its candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota came in a distant third.

Peña Nieto also announced that he will begin a five-nation regional tour later this month that will take him first to Guatemala, Mexico's neighbor to the south, which has fallen victim to the spillover of the drug trade and the growing narco violence.

The president-elect will also travel to Colombia, a nation that has been successful in defeating the cartels.

Brazil will be another stop on his agenda. Peña Nieto wants to open the state-run oil company Pemex to private investment, based on a model similar to Brazil's Petrobras. He will also travel to Argentina and Chile.

Before he takes office, Peña Nieto will visit Washington, where he is expected to meet with President Barack Obama, and then New York.

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